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Philadelphia Bankruptcy Attorney: What Exactly is a Credit Freeze?

dollar sign frozen in an ice cube

May,28,2018

By:Mike Cibik

 

At the Equifax credit reporting agency, a data breach has left many Americans feeling insecure and vulnerable. If you are wondering what the breach was about then you would be shocked to know that millions of Americans had their sensitive information like their social security numbers, date of birth, credit card numbers and in many cases, driver’s license numbers stolen. The hackers went as far as stealing information of people in the UK and Canada too.

 

You can check if you have been a victim (before you contact a bankruptcy lawyer) by clicking on the www.equifaxsecurity2017.com and entering your last name and last 6 digits of your social security number. Regardless of whether you have been a victim of Equifax or not you should freeze your credit score.

 

What is credit freeze?

 

A credit freeze makes your credit score inaccessible to hackers and people with malicious intent. It makes it difficult for them to steal personal information and open accounts in your name. Since new accounts require a credit score, a credit freeze puts a restriction. Your existing creditors can still access your credit scores but, you will have to request a temporary lift of the freeze for any new credit lines or account opening.

 

A lot of people are apprehensive to put a freeze on their credit score.

 

Rest assured that a credit freeze:

 

  • Doesn’t affect your credit score

 

  • Doesn’t prevent you from getting your free annual credit score report

 

  • Doesn’t prevent you from opening a new account, apply for a home or auto loan, rent a new apartment, get a new job. All you need, is to lift the freeze temporarily.

 

  • Does not prevent a thief from charging your existing accounts and you need to monitor them.

 

Putting a credit freeze requires a fee. Most companies charge about $10 to freeze and $10 to unfreeze. The credit freeze remains for a lifetime unless you request a change. Also since there are three credit reporting companies, you need to put a freeze on all three reporting companies (Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian) to get maximum security.

 

Since your credit score is not valuable when you freeze it, credit reporting companies don’t make it easy (since your data is the product they make money with) for you. They charge a fee to put a freeze and to lift it. The fees though varies from company to company.

 

How to do freeze your credit?

 

  • Here are some ways you can put a freeze on your credit account.

 

  • You can do a credit freeze online. Check to see if there is a reduced fee in case you are a senior citizen. 
  • You can write a letter and send it via certified mail. You can even request a freeze on your minor child’s account.

 

  • You can do it over the phone too.

 

Who can see my credit report after freezing?

 

Your report will be accessible to your existing creditors and/ or debt collectors. This is important in case you are planning to file for bankruptcy. Your bankruptcy attorney will be the best person to guide you here.

 

The government also has access to your credit report in cases where you have to respond to a court order or an administrative order or a subpoena.

 

What other measures can be taken to prevent a security breach on your account?

 

  • Being alert is always a help. In this case, paying attention to unexpected calls or emails asking for your credit card number or money.

 

  • Monitoring your credit report every year and checking for errors.

 

  • Setting up alerts for all your accounts and checking for any suspicious activity is also a good idea.

 

  • If you think there is fraudulent activity in any of your accounts, then report it to the concerned authorities.

 

  • Filing your taxes early can also prevent hackers from stealing information and filing fraudulent taxes in your name.

 

Your credit report is key to your financial success, and it is important that you consult an attorney if you have any doubts. If you want to file for bankruptcy, then your bankruptcy lawyer can help you understand how a credit freeze will affect your filing.

 

For a free consultation talk to one of our Philadelphia bankruptcy attorneys at Cibik and Cataldo at 215-735-1060.

 

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